Elisalex V9000 superhack dress

Hello everyone! I’m keeping up my run of weekly blog posts and it feels so good! Today I’m sharing a dress that I cooked up by mashing a few things together. It’s the perfect 50s style swishy midi dress that makes me feel like Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday. I could easily swish around on a Greek island too if needed. Anyone offering a mini break?

almond rock vogue 9000 v9000 elisalex dress by hand london lisa comfort fabric sew over it

So are you curious about my superhack? I started with the Elisalex dress bodice which I’ve made twice before but skipped the sleeves this time. I’m wearing the size 10 with a little bit of excess taken out of the shoulders. Then used Vogue 9000 which I’ve made here, and merged the skirt panels into a front and back rather than seven piece skirt. I’m wearing the size 14 waist and hip. I then adjusted the side seams and centre back edges slightly to make sure they’d match up and chopped an inch off the length.

almond rock vogue 9000 v9000 elisalex dress by hand london lisa comfort fabric sew over it

I’m so happy with the result as it’s modest with the neckline and length, but a little cheeky with the dipped back, AND the skirt has fantastic swish! Seriously good swish. Which is mostly down to the fabric I chose but important to say that being flared rather than circle, there’s limited chance of the skirt blowing up and flashing everyone on a windy day. Result! My invisible zipper went in like a dream (I love my invisible zipper foot to death – if you don’t have one, go get one) and the waist matches nicely! I handsewed the lining to the inside for a change as I normally stitch in the ditch but had some telly to watch while I did it.

almond rock vogue 9000 v9000 elisalex dress by hand london lisa comfort fabric sew over it

I really like wearing dark colours in hot weather as I am always cold and this is a guaranteed way to warm up, but also I think black looks great with a tan. This is of course one of Lisa Comfort’s gorgeous fabric prints. I was very tempted by the first collection which features pastel colours and soft florals. I love Elderflower and the pink colourway would have been perfect for me but I resisted as I hate hate hate ironing and need to limit the amount of cotton dresses I make before I go insane over the wrinkles.

almond rock vogue 9000 v9000 elisalex dress by hand london lisa comfort fabric sew over it

When the crepe collection was released I snapped up the Wild Flower print in black. At 150cm-wide it’s perfectly designed to fit a flared skirt like this without needing to cut on the cross grain but at midi length the pieces are fabric hungry. However the princess seam bodice of the Elisalex dress is a great space saver on a fabric layout. I lined the bodice in black habotai to help as well. In the end I got this dress out of just 1.5m of fabric! SO EFFICIENT!

almond rock vogue 9000 v9000 elisalex dress by hand london lisa comfort fabric sew over it

The poly crepe barely wrinkles, floats like a dream and is totally opaque. Big points for my lifestyle! I’m only slightly bummed that there is a permanent crease in the centre front of the skirt from where the fabric was folded in half before being put on the bolt. I don’t know if this is just my piece, or just the bolt. It could be how the fabric was pressed during transit after printing. I don’t know… but every time I look down I try not to look at the crease line. BUT to end on a more positive note, I can totally recommend the fabric quality, the Elisalex pattern for how well drafted it is and Vogue 9000 as the perfect half shirtdress (eyes peeled for my newest version of this dress in one of the prettiest viscose prints I’ve ever found).

almond rock vogue 9000 v9000 elisalex dress by hand london lisa comfort fabric sew over it

*Just to let you know this post contains affiliate links but products I link are from trusted sellers like The McCall Pattern Co selling through Amazon or Minerva Crafts. There’s no obligation to buy through the link of course. I don’t advertise on my blog so this is a little way to fund the running of the site!

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Thoughts on neglected clothes

Hello June! And hello everyone else. We’re well into a new month and well past the end of Me Made May. If you participated I hope you enjoyed the challenge. Maybe you’re keeping the fun going with #memadeveryday a great way of documenting your outfits more regularly.

Almond rock me made May neglected clothes

If you weren’t aware, I started my blog with Me Made May way back when. I had only a handful of handmade garments but I wanted the kick to wear them out in public and share my thoughts online. This was several years ago so it’s always like a kind of anniversary for me when I take part now. I wear my handmade wardrobe everyday now so I have to get a bit more creative with the challenge aspect of the month.

This year I pledged to wear unloved or neglected makes to see whether they could be resurrected. You can see the highlights of this experiments at the top of my Instagram wall.

Almond rock me made May neglected clothes

The main reasons for neglect were:

  • I hate ironing
  • Too short/too big/too tight
  • Needs nude lingerie
  • Inexperience on early makes
  • Style mistakes

This list contains both easily avoidable issues and things that you need to accept as part of life!

Almond rock me made May neglected clothes

I really don’t need to pick fabrics that rely on ironing. That’s my own stupid mistake. I know my lifestyle and patience levels aren’t compatible with ironing. I’ve got better things to do and I don’t get any enjoyment out of it! And nude lingerie is easily available so that has been pure laziness on my part. It’s been brilliant to rediscover some of those light-coloured garments.

Almond rock me made May neglected clothes

Working out your style is a lifelong exploit. Anyone who doesn’t experiment can’t be having much fun with their wardrobe. You’ll create a few mistakes but you’ll get a clearer idea of what you like!

Almond rock me made May neglected clothes

While it was fun to try on some of those experimental garments again, I’m still not convinced they have a place in my wardrobe. Other than the maxi skirt… I really need to try that out a bit more!

Almond rock me made May neglected clothes

Chasing a great fit can be an endless obsession with fluctuating success. Our bodies are constantly changing with age, activity and diet.

Almond rock me made May neglected clothes

And interpreting wrinkles and drag lines on garments can be a black hole of fit iterations that you have to start again when you revisit the pattern after your body has changed or even just if you’re changing fabric!

Almond rock me made May neglected clothes

Lastly, I’m both fiercely proud and terribly embarrassed by my early makes. So I don’t think I’ll be ever able to get rid of them but they can stay out of heavy rotation.

I know I’m a little late with this round up but I hope you enjoyed stepping into the world of my neglected clothes. Sometimes I worry that it looks like everything goes dreamily for me but that’s not real life! Failure and mistakes are part of learning and succeeding.

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Little Black Jacket part 3 – day 1

This is part 3 of my mini series on the Chanel jacket course I attended in March.

See here for part 1 about inspiration and here for part 2 on materials!

Today I’m sharing my progress from day 1 of the course.

I packed up my machine, pattern, fabric, notions and a travel sewing kit and set off to Roundhay!

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Gillian the course instructor advised making a toile with at least one sleeve set in and bringing it along for discussion on the first day.

I traced all my pieces rather than cutting as I was sure I’d need to apply some “creative” sizing.

I traced a size 12 at the neck/shoulder/armhole/bust and graded out to a size 14 waist and 16 hip.

What I ended up with was pretty good I think. The shoulder length/armhole needed some adjustment but the fit across the bust waist and hips felt good. For a non-fastening jacket the fronts meet and it doesn’t gape open too much.
Overall I felt it could have been snugger and Gillian agreed. She also helped me remove 3cm length from the sleeve.

She advised that although the toile is an excellent indicator of fit it’s often better to fit the jackets again mid-construction because of the wool behaving differently to calico.

Down to business. First up we cut out fabric and lining pieces, remembering to take into consideration nap, pattern matching and in my case the one way shine of satin. I didn’t use interfacing in the end as my wool had enough stability.
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The construction was not as expected. Instead of constructing the outer shell and lining separately and the attaching the two, the corresponding shell and lining pieces were basted together and machine quilted.

This took the majority of the day. We chatted as we went and I made the most of the tips that were shared ready for when I make my second jacket. Here’s a few things I took note of:

  • For a truly expensive looking jacket it’s not enough to pattern-match your fabric in the seams and the sleeves, you should also be matching the pockets.
  • An inch of seam allowance helps you be safer rather than sorry with expensive fabric.
  • Don’t overpress your fabric… in fact barely touch it! Wool is most likely to show marks where you’ve squashed it.
  • It’s not worth overlocking your pieces even if they’re fraying like no-one’s business, as you’re just creating bulk at the seams and wool is plenty bulky enough! Just pink the edges if you need to do something.

Sorry it’s taken so long to post this. I’ve just started a new job and also Mr AR has been unwell. More excitement drafted and ready to post in Part 4 about day 2 of my class.

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Little Black Jacket part 2 – materials

This is second part of my mini series on the Chanel jacket course I am attending in March. See part 1 about inspiration here!

Today is all about materials!

The course is based around Vogue pattern V7975.
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(I’ve heard people rave about Vogue 8804 from the Claire Shaeffer Collection but believe its out of print now.)

The pattern calls for Wool and Wool Blends, Tweeds, Boucle, Gabardine and Mediumweight Linen.

Gillian, the instructor from the sewing school, was kind enough to ring me to discuss supplies.

We talked about how classic Chanel jackets are made from boucle or tweed and she explained about Linton fabrics, a leading stockist for Chanel.

If Chanel choose a fabric from Linton for their line the agreement is that no other bolt of that fabric will be sold for two years. This safeguards the design house from replicas appearing in the market and discourages sewers from making themselves a copy at home immediately.

The pattern does allow for other fabrics as I mentioned and Gillian encouraged me try something more trendy if I wanted. I’m not sure I’m the tweed jacket type so I’ve bought a beautifully soft (so lovely I want to cuddle it all day) plain black wool from Samuel Taylor. I picked an unobtrusive black poly-satin lining.

Interfacing is needed but the pattern doesn’t say what weight so I have a metre of medium and a metre of firm weight fusible interfacing and will feel it out as I go.

Notions are listed based on the view you are making. I’m opting for view B with the length of D/E.
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For this view I’m advised to get braid or ribbon for decoration. I decided to use grosgrain ribbon as trim and my current plan is to use it around the neckline, front and jacket hem, as well as at the cuffs and pockets.

Gillian also advised the course would cover some additional techniques for making the jacket not detailed in the V7975 instructions.

As well as interfacing we will be using interlining to add stability, so I have some cotton gauze ready to use.

Also we will be hand stitching chain onto the jacket’s interior hem. This is another traditional element of Chanel jackets, where the chain weighs down the jacket hem to produce a desirable drape. But I couldn’t find any attractive weighted chain so Gillian and I agreed I should use weights inside the hem of the jacket as well as attaching the admittedly light chain I had been able to purchase.

Finally I have three spools of black thread and have pre-wound three bobbins so I don’t have to halt progress if I run out. Part of me wants to use colourful thread in case I need to unpick but can’t think like that. Only success is allowed!!

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Winter sewing plans

Everyone knows how lame English weather is. Sometimes it feels like we jump straight from Summer to Winter.

But something that is different this year is that I’m embracing sewing a Winter wardrobe! I pretended Winter wasn’t happening last year by sewing sundresses but I can’t kid myself much longer.

I’ve got some quite ambitious plans.┬áHere are the first few concrete ideas I have.

I hope you’re not too cold wherever you are.

And if you are I hope you’re whipping up something lovely to keep you warm whether it’s a blanket, a scarf, an outfit or a coat.

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